Chaharshanbe Sori, Nowrooz, Haftsin och Sizde Bedar

Chaharshanbe Suri is not only a time-honored tradition but also a reflection of the rich cultural tapestry of Iran. The festival embodies the spirit of resilience, hope, and community, fostering connections between generations and preserving the cultural heritage of the Persian people.

Now Rooz, a cherished annual celebration, unfolds during the Vernal Equinox, spanning from March 20-22 each year. This cultural extravaganza is embraced by diverse communities, including Persians, Afghans, Baluchis, Tajiks, Kurds, and Azeris. Known as Now Rooz, Nouruz, or Newroz, depending on the language spoken, the festivities commence post-sunset and extend until New Year’s Eve, which falls on Wednesday, March 20, 2024, at 04:01. It is the most important holiday of the whole year and is celebrated with family and friends.

The jubilant commencement takes place with the Fire Festival, Chaharshanbe suri, signifying the Red Wednesday. In the upcoming year, 2024, it will unfold on March 19, which is the last Tuesday of the Persian year. This lively event symbolizes the embrace of spring and the bid adieu to winter.


During the Fire Festival, small fires are lit in open places, which people then dance around and jump over. Jumping over the fire is a symbolic purification process where the flames are said to be able to cleanse body and soul from disease and evil. You get rid of the winter cold and instead get the warmth and vitality of the fire. The custom of jumping over fire probably arose after the Arab invasion of Iran in the middle of the 6th century. The background to the Fire Festival is to welcome the souls of the deceased with warmth and purity, similar to the Swedish Walborg tradition.


Participants often wear vibrant clothing, and masks and engage in traditional music and dance around the bonfires. The rhythmic beating of drums and the energetic movements create an atmosphere of unity and joy, fostering a sense of community. One of the cherished customs during Chaharshanbe Suri is the practice of making wishes for the future. As people jump over the flames, they express their hopes and aspirations, believing that the fire will carry their wishes to the heavens. This ritual symbolizes the renewal of life, the triumph of light over darkness, and the anticipation of a prosperous and joyful year ahead.


During Now Rooz, people gather around the traditional New Year’s spread, Haft Sin, featuring seven items that start with the letter ‘s.’ These include senjed (a type of sweet fruit), somâq (a sour spice), sabzeh (a tray of sprouted wheat, lentils, or similar), sib (a red apple), samanoo (a sweet paste made from wheat sprouts), sir (garlic), and serkeh (vinegar). Additionally, there should be seven types of cookies and nuts, a mirror, hand-painted eggs, a bowl with a live goldfish, and the colors of the Iranian flag. The specific items on the spread have varied over centuries and often had a strong local influence. It is a tradition among Iranians to visit all relatives and friends during the New Year.


The New Year celebration has its roots around 3000 years ago when the first Aryans settled on the Iranian plateau. In Zoroastrianism, the state religion of the Persian Empire until the mid-600s, Now Rooz had a religious connection as the prophet Zarathustra was born during the New Year. Today, Now Rooz is a non-religious festival celebrated by people of all social classes in the Iranian cultural sphere, regardless of religious or ethnic affiliation. With the introduction of Islam as the state religion in the 600s, Now Rooz celebration was initially forbidden as it was deemed conflicting with Islam. However, during the medieval period, Iranian rulers began to emancipate themselves, and the New Year celebration flourished again. Since then, the Muslim leadership in the country has accepted the celebration of Now Rooz. However, there are still restrictions on Fire Festival celebrations in present-day Iran.


According to tradition, it is considered unlucky to stay home on the thirteenth day. It is customary to venture into nature and, among other things, throw wheat from the New Year’s spread into a water stream, symbolizing the cycle of life. The Persian tradition of the thirteenth day (Sizde Bedar) likely stems from the ancient cult of the Iranian fertility goddess Ardvi Surã Anahita.